The rest gets long, so here's a summary of the major points:
I think your question was fine.
I don't think you need to establish your purpose to make the question valid. However, we need to understand the context to answer
correctly, and it's perfectly OK for a user to ask for
You simply need to keep it within guidelines, which you did.
This whole thing looks like a simple misunderstanding to me
Even waxeagle's answer to this question doesn't look like a demand that you provide purpose, but rather an explanation of why he asked the questions in the first place. That's not a minor distinction. (second point above)
I personally don't see a problem with the original post from you that @waxeagle commented on. It seems to be addressing "Does X teach Y" which is perfectly within site guidelines.
I do understand waxeagle's objection to using un-referenced sources, but in this particular case, I don't see it as problematic. You seem to be referencing a real article in a real magazine and it sounds legit. It's not like you said something completely ludicrous like "I heard the Billy Graham thinks that flying monkeys will take us to heaven". It seems that you're asking a "real" question, in other words. That's a subjective judgment, but I'd be willing to stand by it.
All told, your question, in my opinion, is no more off-topic or non-constructive than this question. Quality-wise, they seem equivalent, and both fall well within the site guidelines of "Does X teach Y, not is Y true".
That said, when I look a this comments I am also not sure I see anything more than a simple misunderstanding, exacerbated by the fact that Waxeagle is a moderator.
Asking for a citation for a reference is perfectly reasonable. I could get away with it. caseyr57 could get away with it, svidgen could get away with it. Any non-mod could ask such a question and nobody would think twice about it. But when a moderator asks it, it seems a bit more threatening.
Looking at the comment when things seemed to go haywire...
OK, I guess my question is, what are you hoping to learn from this? Is
this a simple attempt to find the article? Or is there a purpose
behind the question? I feel like if you have a purpose beyond finding
the article the trappings of the question rob it of standing. Does
that make sense?
I'd like to suggest the following points...
- Asking questions to determine intent and clarify the purpose of a question is normal behavior. The web is a horrible medium for communications, and it's extremely easy to have simple misunderstandings. Asking questions is the only logical way to find out what each other means. Therefore, Waxeagle's question could merely have been an attempt to understand the context, which is perfectly valid.
However, your response indicates that you took it as somehow an indictment on the quality or suitability of the question, and an annoyance - as in "I've stated my purpose, why the heck are you harassing me about it? Are you singling me out or something? What's your problem"
I've said the purpose twice. (Checks to see how many other people
you're asking this of.)
Stepping back, I can see why you'd feel this way. You've been a bit frustrated by several things that you see as unfair treatment by moderators, and by me, personally. I get that, and in that context, it's easy to see why you'd interpret waxeagle's comments like that. I might, too.
All I've got to say is that moderators are also participants here. If any normal, non-moderator site user (except maybe me) were to ask questions trying to clarify context, would you automatically perceive the question as an attack? Would you be as defensive?
So this gets taken to Meta. That's perfect! This is where we address things like this, and this is the appropriate forum.
As I read WaxEagle's answer on this, I can see that his answer makes perfect sense as one user speaking to another user. If Fredsbend or rguy or Rick were to be the one posting it, we'd all see it as simply one user trying to explain his or her perspective.
However, because waxeagle is a moderator and has that little diamond, it seems like he's asserting his authority. It seems like he's saying "Hey, bud, this is the way it is".
Without that diamond by his name, any reasonable person would read his post as "Hey, I'm just trying to explain why I made that comment".
I'd like to humbly suggest that this was a misunderstanding on both ends. Waxeagle simply wanted some clarification, and because he has that diamond, you interpreted it as something else.
Addressing your second question about if you're a moderator, would you have to enforce such a policy, the answer in this case, in my opinion, is no. he wasn't enforcing a policy to begin with. he was asking a question, acting like a normal user, not out to close things down.
But since you brought up moderation... Moderators are the police of a forum like this. Being a mod carries a lot of restrictions. There's a lot less freedom to speak openly about your own opinions. As a mod you'd be required to enforce the site policies, whether you agree with them or not. Just like a police officer is required to enforce laws he or she doesn't like.
Police officers aren't allowed to go around saying "This law is stupid, and that law makes no sense". They are simply expected to enforce the laws on the books. Similarly, moderators must be extra-careful to not speak out against the guidelines that have been established. They can contribute to the formation and change of polices like a normal user. Unlike normal user, however, that participation needs to be tempered with restraint.
Right now, this minute, you or I could get away with saying "I hate the Truth policy, I think it's counter-productive. A moderator doesn't have that luxury for open and honest criticism. A moderator could say something like "I have doubts about whether the Truth policy is int he best interest of the site. For now, it's what the community has decided upon, but you are free to bring up your objections on Meta and in chat to try to change the policy". Moderators can steer the community into the appropriate/allowable actions to let the community change things, but they aren't allowed to make blanket decisions.
As a moderator, you would be expected to enforce the guidelines that exist, not just those that you like.
Ad, getting back to the subject of this post, as a moderator, you're subject to a much higher level of scrutiny. People see your posts and attach weight to them. Waxeagle asking for context in this case is a perfect example. Any normal user (except for me - I am well aware that I raise hackles of some people around here) could have asked the same questions and not have gotten as defensive a response.
However, bottom line - I think your question was fine.
I think that there was a misunderstanding between you and waxeagle. I think that misunderstanding is perfectly normal, unfortunate, but understandable.
I don't think you need to establish your purpose to make the question valid.
You simply need to keep it within guidelines, which you did.
The request to articulate purpose was merely a request from a user with a question - but because that user has a diamond, it was perceived as a demand to explain yourself. A perfectly natural misunderstanding, but a misunderstanding nonetheless.